Browsing posts from April, 2012
The Cubs have only two wins to show for it, but its starting staff is off to a terrific start.
Chicago ranks second in MLB for innings pitched by its starters (46.2), trailing only Seattle’s (48.0). And had it not been for Paul Maholm’s abrupt outing on Tuesday, 4.0 IP, the Cubs likely would lead all of baseball in this category.
It’s an uplifting sign for a club struggling to score runs and a life-saver from its bullpen ranked last in the NL. But as long as the starting pitching holds strong, the Cubs have a chance to creep back towards the .500 mark.
All six games the Cubs have played this season have been decided by three or fewer runs, including Wednesday’s 2-1 loss against Milwaukee.
On one hand it speaks to the Cubs solid starting pitching. On the other, it’s remarkable games have stayed so close with Chicago’s bullpen ranked dead last in the National League.
But it unquestionably shines light on how punch-less the offense has been thus far. The Cubs have scored 19 total runs–right at three per game–with a .221 team batting average and .140 mark with RISP.
In fact, Milwaukee felt so confident they could outslug the Cubs this afternoon they rested three regulars–Ryan Braun, Corey Hart & Jonathan Lucroy. And it worked thanks to backup catcher George Kottaras’ messily two-run homer.
There’s no reason for over-reaction to the Cubs (1-4) start less than a week into a marathon long season.
However, there’s plenty of reason to be concerned with the Cubs shaky bullpen after five games.
Chicago’s ‘pen is sporting an (0-3) record with an unflattering 7.24 ERA.
In 13.2 innings of work they’ve allowed 11 earned runs on 16 hits, one home run and 12 walks vs. nine strikeouts. Obviously, that’s extremely concerning.
To make matters worse, the two go-to-guys, Carlos Marmol & Kerry Wood, have accounted for six earned runs and three blown saves.
Many Cubs fans had been waiting a long, long time for this day—and no, I’m not referring to the Cubs first win of the 2012 season.
Rather, Carlos Zambrano finally made his first major league start wearing a uniform other than Cubbie Blue.
Big Z lasted six innings allowing 4 ER on 4 hits, walking 2 and striking out 6 against the Reds at Great American Ballpark on Sunday.
Here’s a scary thought; the Cubs might not reach the .500 mark at all this season thanks to its (0-2) start.
If that sounds preposterous, it shouldn’t.
Washington is just one win away from sweeping the season opening series and sending the Cubs to its worst start in 15 years (0-14, 1997).
If, however, Chicago does win its first game of the season on Sunday, the .500 mark still remains in jeopardy with an unforgiving April schedule ahead.
I had the wonderful privilege of joining staff sergeant Josh Helms as his honorary guest for Opening Day.
He’s a proud father of two, loving husband and member of our armed forces, including having served three tours of duty in the Middle East.
Of course, I’d be remised not to point out Josh’s faithful commitment to Cubdom, of which we discussed at length while eating hot dogs, drinking Old Style and shivering our way through the Cubs lid-lifter–despite the outcome, as Pat Foley would say.
The tickets, behind home plate in section 120, came courtesy of Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm, who raffled them off through Twitter last Thursday.
Maholm was also kind enough to speak with Josh & I beforehand this afternoon near the Cubs dugout. A class move from the southpaw, indeed.
As Bill Murray whipped the fans into a frenzy with his ceremonial first pitch sprint around the bases, I knew we were in for an unforgettable day at Wrigley.
Remember the number 700. It’s likely the minimum number of runs scored the Cubs need to reach to make the postseason.
In 2011 Chicago managed 654 runs scored, good for eighth place in the 16 team NL, but only fourth best in their own division.
The world champion Cardinals, meanwhile, led the NL with 762 runs scored–108 more runs than Chicago.
Playoff contenders Arizona (No.4), Milwaukee (No.5) & Philadelphia (No.7) all finished in the top 10 spots.
Although the Cubs did as well, there’s a sizable gap in this department compared to the Phillies who finished one spot higher.
Tom Ricketts found David James “fascinating.”
How does James, a professional and very successful sports prognosticator, work his magic? And how did James size up the Cubs’ chances before the 2011 season?
As usual, James was spot-on during his happen-stance meeting with Ricketts at the 2011 owner’s meeting at Camelback Ranch.
He assured the Cubs newly minted owner that his team, hampered by albatross contracts and underperforming stars, was heading in the wrong direction, destined for a spot near the basement of the NL standings.
A disappointing 91-loss season confirmed James’ prediction.
Of course, any Cubs fan could predict last year’s team wasn’t in line for greatness, but James doesn’t make his name stating the obvious.
I recently interviewed James about his success predicting both the potential success and failures of professional athletes. What is his method, and what’s in store for the Cubs in 2012?
James’ answer to his method wasn’t what I expected–that being some secret formula of statistical calculations. Rather, James focuses his attention on a player’s “it factor.”
So what exactly does that mean?